For the first time in 39 seasons, the Lancaster Flying Arrows football team will be under the leadership of someone other than legendary coach John Hoch.
The school on Wednesday announced the Hall of Fame coach’s retirement after he posted a final overall record of 327-117, which is sixth on the state’s all-time win list. Hoch is recuperating from a recent medical procedure and unavailable for comment.
During his reign, Hoch led the Flying Arrows to seven state titles and four runners-up finishes.
“During my first year as an assistant coach in 2011 we lost in the state championship game,” current Lancaster defensive coordinator Kyle Stiklestad said. “I remember Coach Hoch pulling me aside after the game and he said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be back and win this thing.”
The Arrows brought home gold balls in 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2014.
“Coach Hoch’s ability to take kids that might not have a lot of talent and turn them into consistently good teams was really incredible to watch,” Stiklestad said. “It was an amazing learning experience to coach with him; his knowledge for the game is just crazy. I’ve learned so much about not only the game, but also on how to help kids and to be a good teacher. He showed me that you always need to do things the right way and to not take any short cuts in doing so.”
Hoch was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010 and served as the WFCA president for two terms. In 2014, he was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was named the National High School Athletic Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in football.
In his final season, the Flying Arrows went 5-4 overall, bowing out in the second round of the playoffs.
Lancaster senior Hayden Knapp, who played quarterback for the Arrows the past three years, said Hoch has left a lasting impression on not only him, but all of his players.
“Coach Hoch and I shared a special bond,” he said. “He is like a grandfather to me, and it’s hard to put into words how much he means to me. I don’t know if anyone can fill his shoes. He was known as being a big yeller, but he did it because he wants the best out of his players. He holds everyone to the highest of standards, and that’s what made him such a successful coach.”
Knapp said that the lessons learned from Hoch extended beyond the football field.
“He taught me how important it is to be a leader,” Knapp said. “I know that I have to hold myself to the highest standard in everything I do in life, and that’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”